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“The Diverse Products of Cocos nucifera are Admired for Usefulness in Homes and Industries”

("The Cocommunity" - Monthly APCC Newsletter
Volume 45, Series No. 11, 1 November 2015)

It is the usefulness of the Cocos nucifera that is an advantage for the industry amongst its sister tree crops known even in modern day agriculture sector. To get to the nut itself one has to remove the husk from the coconut revealing the shell that protects and contains the kernel and water. Significant quantities and volumes of coconut husk, shell and water would not reach a market for cash income to be generated for farmers as a result of the traditional copra making process that seeks out to harvest only the kernel for raw material using the shell mostly to burn for heating source to dry the kernel to produce what is referred to as copra. Copra can then be exported in bulk shipment or in many countries crushed and sold as crude coconut oil with world market prices at over US$600 per MT and US$1,000 per MT respectively.

During APCC 2015 visit in India of the coconut sector in southern provinces of Tamil Nadu and Kerala there was clear demonstration of whole nut processing in most areas with end products of very good quality. This was also evident at the Kerala Coir Trade Fair and Exhibits held at the time of the visit with many international traders visiting and negotiating purchases of the many categories of coir products.

China is the leading importer of nearly 50% of total global production of coir products with total world market value of US$750 million. India obviously leads the exporting countries with Sri Lanka and Indonesia, these three make up nearly 80% of exports. India’s monthly export volume of coir and coir product is over 260,000 MT valued at over US$100 million. The good news is that demand for coir continues to grow. The challenge is in maintaining prices at levels that are attractive to sustain sales volumes as indicated by declines in second half of 2015 in Sri Lanka and in Indonesia for raw fibre.

Technology advancements in husk processing look at developing machinery for higher productivity and cost-effectiveness. Simple farm-based machines such as the de-husking and the decorticating machines are not only an improvement but appear to be at affordable prices. The coir industry continues to grow and with good quality products coming on to the market it should develop a positive outlook for the years ahead.

Revitalisation of the coconut sector globally would be an appropriate development agenda for the governments of coconut growing countries whose rural population are largely dependent on farm income. In the last few months, encouraging news was received of efforts in most Asian countries to source the best planting material available and the potential for specific end products to be determined by what material is planted.

If, over 100% increase each month is recorded by countries such as Sri Lanka and India in the production of virgin coconut oil is an indication, then similar or increasing trend of production is about to be experienced in short to medium term period ahead of us in other countries. The planting of new coconut trees has to be high amongst the national development priorities of coconut growing nations in Asia and Pacific regions to be able to keep up with the increasing demand for coconuts as raw material.

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